Preferences are about ‘the what’ under decision; desert is about ‘the who’ under decision. Desert is about apportionment, about who is responsible for whatever happened; preferences is about allocation, about what someone wants or does not want. Desert is important to measure in a world where almost everything that happens is a team effort, where isolated individuals almost never get to take all the credit for any outcome, good or bad. Preferences are important to measure is a world where almost everyone has a basket of goods and services to choose between.
A society interested in desert needs to retain the sense of responsibility for as far back temporally and as widely cross-sectionally as it is possible to go. Such a society cannot afford the fiction of contracts, which cuts off the recognition of responsibility because the cutting of responsibility and the measurement of desert makes it easier to organize the economy around anonymous transactions. God is there as the residual actor, personifying fortune's role in whatever happened.
Because desert defines the apportionments it is really describing all the chuqim in the system (since chuqim refer to apportionments).